Lies and Liars

Debbie says:

One of my most frequent rants in the last ten years is one I haven’t aired much on this blog: I really resent the way that the media seem to me to be more and more inclined to treat outright lies as “opinions” and give them equal time with facts, as if “The moon is made of green cheese” and “The moon is made of rock” deserved equal attention and credence.

So, even though it has little or nothing to do with body image per se, I give you Slactivist’s latest post, in which he warms the cockles of my heart by making this point with the style and grace he usually reserves for making fun of the “Left Behind” books.

The Liar Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday morning.

I refer to the Liar Tony Perkins as “the Liar Tony Perkins” because the Liar Tony Perkins lies. A lot. He lies professionally in order to convince the fearfully credulous to send him more money.

And that, of course, is what the Liar Tony Perkins was doing Sunday morning on
Face the Nation. He was lying.

The delicious thing on this particular Sunday morning — unlike the Sunday mornings on which the Liar Tony Perkins is, inexplicably, allowed to attend church as though a member in good standing — he was called on it.

David Boies, a member of the legal team that opposed Proposition 8 (the anti-gay-marriage amendment to the California constitution) told the Liar Tony Perkins off in nice clear terms which you can read at the link, because they aren’t the point of this post.

Slactivist goes on to discuss the damage that these lies do:

The lies of the Liar Tony Perkins are hateful and harmful. His lies have victims. Two sets of victims, actually.

First there are the direct victims — the people about whom the Liar Tony Perkins is lying. Quite often, those direct victims are homosexuals, whom the Liar Tony Perkins accuses of all manner of nastiness. These lies are hurtful — not just because they create a din of incessant harassment, but because they alter the cultural environment in which GLBT persons must live. The Liar Tony Perkins is, intentionally, creating a hostile environment for our GLBT neighbors. That hostility can become tangible — hindering the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of those neighbors, restricting their freedoms, their ability to make a living, to find housing, to pursue relationships, to live unmolested.

So that’s bad.

The second set of victims, the indirect victims of the Liar Tony Perkins’ lies, are those naive or foolish or fearful enough to believe him. These victims are doubly victimized. First they suffer financially by responding to the Liar Tony Perkins’ incessant appeals for contributions. Collecting money under the pretext that it will provide imaginary protection from an imaginary threat is, of course, fraud.

But these believers in the Liar Tony Perkins are also victims in a second, more pernicious way. Their character is being corroded and poisoned by the steady diet of lies fed to them by the Liar Tony Perkins. Their capacity for love, for tolerance, magnanimity, citizenship, mutuality, honor, kindness, responsibility, hope, hospitality, generosity and neighborliness is being diminished. When you are deceived into believing hateful and stupid things you become yourself more hateful and stupid. This is not good for you.

Marlene talked in a recent post on this blog about what goes on in the hearts of “ignorant hateful folks”:

I can see that they think they are doing the right thing in their fearmongering. I allow that they simply don’t know or understand the world in the same way I do. I know that they act out of fear, whether it is fear of people like me, or fear of themselves, or fear of rejection by people like themselves.

We haven’t discussed it, and maybe she’ll chime in, but I suspect she was not talking as much about Tony Perkins (and Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, whom Slactivist mentions at the end of his post, and their ilk) as about the people they are lying to. There’s a distinction between ignorant hateful folks and aware hateful folks, or as Slactivist calls them, sincere and insincere bigots:

The soul of a sincere bigot is a sad, shriveled, broken thing in need of what all such broken souls require — repentance, forgiveness and liberation. The sincere bigot requires the liberation that comes from repentance and forgiveness because he — like all of his followers — is a prisoner of the lies he is spreading. He is deceived, but the truth could set him free.

The insincere demagogue is less a prisoner than a jailer. Or maybe a corrupt trusty. He has the keys to his own cell door but chooses not to leave so long as he can profit from inducing others to accept the bondage he’s selling. He knows the truth, but he refuses to allow it to set him free. He has, willingly, exchanged his soul for money.

Compassion for the harm done to, and action on behalf of, the “first set of victims” is unbelievably important. And most of us are in that first set of victims: we’re women, we’re queer, we’re people of color, we’re trans, we’re disabled, we’re marginalized in one or many ways. And that harm is palpable. And that’s part of why I’m so angry at the press for letting the lies go unchallenged. I wish it had been Bob Schieffer the hosts of Face the Nation, not fellow guest David Boies, who called out the lies of the Liar Tony Perkins. I wish the press wasn’t colluding with the demagogues.

2 thoughts on “Lies and Liars

  1. I know there’s an informal internet tradition that all dialog is over the minute one cites Hitler, but forgive me in advance because this post so much put me in mind of the concept of “the big lie” often attributed to Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda, although the link below quotes Mein Kampf on the subject years earlier.

    The theory is that if a lie is repeated enough times it would become widely accepted as truth. I kind of agree with the theory. Interestingly, according to the link below that theory (and the “quote”) may have arisen more as an observation of Nazi propaganda in action rather than a Machiavellian confession. If you look at the quote at the link below (I won’t sink to pasting it in), you can see a sort of Pee Wee Herman, “I know you are but what am I?” kind of logic that seems to operate when people convince themselves that they are only telling lies to the public in order to combat worse lies from whatever group it is they hate.

  2. “The Big Lie” is an extremely effective propaganda/mind-control technique, indeed. There is also recent research indicating that once people have their minds made up, factual information is not very likely to change their minds, no matter how wrong their views are. See, for example, “vaccines cause autism.” NO THEY DON’T. Not in any epidemiologically meaningful way.

    That said, here is a rant of my own on the subject of lies repeated by the press without comment.

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